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Conference announcement: ‘The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward,” Sept. 19-20

Today, more than half of all global humanity lives in urban areas.  That figure is projected to grow to more than 60 percent by 2050.  Although cities possess conditions that promote good mental health, they also possess conditions — poverty, conflict, and social isolation — that are harmful to mental health. In fact, research shows that city living is linked to increased risk for mental health problems.

The Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion  (ISE) has just announced an international conference this fall to examine latest thinking and practice on these issues.  “The Social Determinants of Urban Mental Health: Paving the Way Forward” will address harmful living conditions in urban populations and their impacts on mental health. Government officials, scholars, researchers, community leaders and philanthropists will lead discussion on how to create cities that promote the mental health and well-being of the world’s urban residents.

Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot, MBBS, MPH, Ph.D., will provide the conference’s keynote address.  Marmot is Director of the UCL Institute on Health Equity (Marmot Institute), Chair of the European Review on the Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide, and Director of the International Institute on Society and Health.

The conference expands on progress since the ISE’s groundbreaking conference in June 2010 on “The Social Determinants of Mental Health: From Awareness to Action,” bringing together discussion and presentations from renowned leaders in the field including David Satcher, MD, PhD, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, and the Adler School’s own Lynn Todman, Ph.D.

At the conference and since then, their work has heightened awareness about how social conditions such as housing quality, land use, food security, employment opportunity, working conditions, the environments, public safety and public services systems affect mental healthy and well-being.

Among the 2010 conference’s goals was to encourage development of mental health prevention and intervention strategies that are informed by the social determinants framework. Another goal was to facilitate and support the establishment of multidisciplinary collaborations to identify and address the social condtions that impact mental health.  The Adler School’s ISE immediately led action on both with its development of the Mental Health Impact Assessment (MHIA) process, currently at work in an 18-month project addressing issues of unemployment and mental health in Chicago’s challenged Englewood community.

“The Social Determinants of Mental Health: From Awareness to Action” will take place in Chicago on September 19-20. Conference details and registration will be announced by May 1 at adler.edu/ISE, or for more information, contact the ISE at ISE@adler.edu.

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